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Environmental racism in the case of Indigenous Americans must be acknowledged as an insidious form of genocide.

Environmental racism is a term that first began its use in the environmental justice movements of the 1970s and 1980s, primarily to address concerns about black communities being negatively affected by the US government’s social policies. As the environmental justice movement grew, the term environmental racism came to connote all minority and communities of color who across the USA were equally and disastrously affected by policies involving their access to clean air, water, and non-contaminated land. While the term environmental racism has only existed for the past few decades, its reality has existed since the beginning of white settler colonialism in the United States and indigenous communities have been particularly victimized by environmental racism. From 1872-1873 the US military went on a targeted campaign to kill millions of buffalo in order to starve Indigenous populations and force them to comply with the newly developing reservation systems. These plots of reservation lands displaced Indigenous communities from their ancestral homes and were often inhospitable environments without easy access to water, food, and other natural resources that made self-sufficiency virtually impossible. Even today, indigenous peoples in America continue to survive ongoing and often daily assaults on their rights to livable spaces.
Related: YES, ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM IS REAL AND IT IS DEVASTATING.

Reclaiming racist stereotypes for yourself isn’t political or edgy when it harms the very people to whom you owe your basic political rights.

When it comes to “freedom of speech,” white, cis, able-bodied Americans have a long history of valuing their right to say whatever they want over the bodily safety of everyone else – even and especially when their words openly inflict violence on Black, Indigenous, and people of color by upholding and reinforcing systemic racism. Speech doesn’t operate in a vacuum. We have learned time and again that, like everything else in America, speech is a commodity that, while presumably freely available to all, is in fact always distributed unevenly based on race, class, and ability. In short, those with more capital, more privilege, and more power will always have more access to platforms that broadcast and circulate their speech, thus further consolidating their power. In particular, since the election of Donald Trump, freedom of speech has become the official rallying cry of the alt-right: white nationalists and Neo-Nazis have seized this historical opportunity to publicly insult and ridicule trans women, undocumented students, disabled people, and BIPOC, claiming that their right to freedom of speech must be protected at all costs, and that any attempt to criticize this fundamental constitutional right is a form of censorship.
Related: NO, INTERRACIAL LOVE IS NOT “SAVING AMERICA”

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